After a long and cold winter, spring is finally here, and many people are eager to get outside to exercise. Whether you’re looking to incorporate a brisk walk during your lunch break or prefer to start your day with a long-distance run, Allegheny Health Network primary care sports medicine physician Jared Ramsey, DO, shares advice on how to safely re-boot your spring workout routine.
Set realistic expectations to start
Everyone is different and where you start with your level of endurance will vary. If it’s been a while since your last exercise session, you are likely not going to be able to exercise as well as you did previously. Start with shorter distances, slower speeds, lighter weights and fewer repetitions to get back to where you were during your last workout.
Build up training slowly
In general, you should not increase your intensity by more than 10% a week. For example, if you ran 1 mile, you should only increase to 1.2 miles the next week at the same speed. For strength training, you should calculate the total weight from the week before and only increase it by 10%.
Knowing the right time to stretch is important. Static stretching (not moving and holding a position) does not do much to prevent injury before you exercise. Instead, take a few minutes to do a light jog or squats/lunges without weights before you get started. However, stretching after exercise may help prevent future injuries as well. Post-workout stretching is the best time to stretch as it more effectively increases flexibility.
Take days off
Your body needs time to recover. Overtraining can ultimately limit your exercise capacity. Not only can it affect your endurance and strength, but it can also have negative effects on your mood, weight, energy and blood pressure. Shoot for two to three days a week to start and ultimately build up to five days a week.
Vary your exercises
Don't focus on just strength training or cardio, and don't stick with the same routine. Everyone benefits from a variety of exercise routines. Repeating the same routines tends to allow your muscles to adapt to that stress while neglecting other parts of your body. Most people should change their routine every four to six weeks to prevent a plateau. Combining exercises also helps to decrease injury.
Dr. Ramsey’s practice is located in Grove City, Pennsylvania. To learn more about the AHN Orthopaedic Institute, visit https://www.ahn.org/services/orthopaedic or call (412) DOCTORS to schedule an appointment.